Former convicted Area 2 Police Commander Jon Burge says he finds it “hard to believe” that Chicago’s “political leadership” could “even contemplate giving reparations to human vermin” like the “guilty vicious criminals” he tried to take off the streets.
Three days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to create a $5.5 million “reparations” fund to compensate torture victims, Burge unleashed a torrent of anger against plaintiffs’ attorneys, politicians, a “complicit” news media and two torture victims.
Burge, who has long asserted his Fifth Amendment rights when placed under oath about the alleged torture, broke his silence in an interview with writer and Chicago Police officer Martin Preib posted on a blog titled “The Conviction Project.”
In a brief telephone conversation Friday from his home in Tampa, Fla., Burge confirmed that the remarks were his. He refused to respond to similar questions from the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I find it hard to believe that the city’s political leadership could even contemplate giving `Reparations’ to human vermin” like Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon, Burge was quoted as saying.
Burge argued that plaintiffs’ attorney Flint Taylor and others with a “radical political agenda” have been “working to free guilty, vicious criminals” for years by filing specious lawsuits” against Chicago Police officers.
The “cottage industry” has been created by the fact that, “99 percent of the time, the city will settle” instead of going to trial because “it’s cheaper,” Burge said.
“These private attorneys grow rich because the city of Chicago is afraid to defend the lawsuits filed by these human vultures,” Burge was quoted as saying.
“Ask the mayor and City Council members how many relatives of the victims of these crimes they spoke with before deciding on their `Reparations,’ ” Burge said.
Taylor denounced Burge as a “convicted perjurer and liar.” He noted that, just a month ago, Burge took the Fifth Amendment once again rather than “tell these lies and commit this perjury under oath and run the risk of going back to jail where he truly belongs to spend the rest of his life.”
For decades, Burge was accused of overseeing a “midnight crew” of cops who systematically tortured African-American suspects. The 66-year-old former commander was finally brought to justice in 2011 when he was convicted of perjury for lying in civil lawsuits connected to that torture.
Burge was sentenced to 4 1/2 years for lying under oath about police torture but got time off for good behavior. He was recently released from a halfway house near his home in the Tampa area.
“He is clearly a serial human rights violator who has committed racist crimes against humanity too numerous to count. And this attack on the men who have so bravely stood up to him — and who a jury and a federal judge relied upon to send him to the penitentiary — only underscores how disgraceful and cowardly his unsworn statements . . . slandering me, my fellow lawyers and these clients are,” Taylor said.
“I stand ready to go anywhere, any time, any place to place him under oath and to ask him point-blank whether he tortured Anthony Holmes and whether he was responsible for the torture of Darrell Cannon and 115-to-120 other African-American men who have documented proof that he and his co-conspirators tortured them.”
Taylor was outraged by the suggestion that he and his fellow attorneys representing torture victims are money-grubbers.
“We have been committed to this for over 2 1/2 decades — not to make money, but because we are firmly committed to exposing racist crimes against humanity. And the people who have joined with us include Amnesty International and a wide range of other organizations who . . . see his crimes for what they are,” Taylor said.
“He says the truth will come out. The truth has come out. That’s why the city has acted as it has. No matter what kind of cowardly statements Burge may make under cover of darkness, it is not going to change the public record of his and his fellow officers’ crimes.”
In the interview with Preib, Burge claims that he and his cohorts would someday be “vindicated.” Already, he claimed that “evidence is slowly emerging that clearly shows what happened to the dedicated Chicago Police detectives who fought, as best we could, the worst, most violent predators on the South Side.”
Burge also unleashed his anger at Holmes and Cannon, whom he calls “chief spokesmen for the reparations campaign.”
Cannon was livid. He urged U.S. attorney Zach Fardon to “go back and find reason to indict” Burge again.
“Jon Burge is a good-for-nothing . . . who doesn’t deserve to have one penny of city money [in his pension]. He’s a sick individual who’s been blessed to have only gotten four years in prison, which is a travesty in itself. I sure hope the feds will look at the fact that he came up off the Fifth,” Cannon said.
“He talks about families [of crime victims]. What about all of our families who suffered while he was running free and rampant throughout the black community? And if I’m such a vermin or whatever he called me, look at my record since I’ve been home. Not one time have I had a negative encounter with the Police Department other than a traffic ticket.”
Holmes was equally incensed that Burge would condemn reparations so long overdue.
“He accuses us, but when you ask him to comment on what he did to us, he takes the Fifth. He’s trying to belittle us still to cover up for the fact that he was wrong. That’s sad. I feel sorry for him. I didn’t try to hurt him like he hurt me,” Holmes said.
“The city is trying to help us because he put us in this position. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t need no help. All of us are mentally unstable. We’re not ourselves. . . . He’s trying to cover up for himself and saying he did everything right. He didn’t do everything right. He tortured us. He’s saying what he did to us was justified to get information. We can’t stand torture. That’s how he broke all of us.”
He added, “I was a gang-banger out on the street. True enough. But I didn’t deserve what he did to me. He did what he wanted to do and now, he’s got to pay for it. But he still won’t admit that he did it.”